Talk about wishful thinking, the AP passes along what sounds like a prima-facie nonsensical rumour:
Toyota Motor Corp. is secretly developing a vehicle that will be powered solely by solar energy in an effort to turn around its struggling business with a futuristic ecological car, a top business daily reported Thursday.
The Nikkei newspaper, however, said it will be years before the planned vehicle will be available on the market. Toyota’s offices were closed Thursday and officials were not immediately available for comment.
Even the way it’s written doesn’t make sense. The car would “turn around its struggling business” and yet not be available for years? Yeah, no. Given that Prius sales are off by 50%, and the company just halted production of a new Prius plant, it’s hard to imagine the company having any illusions about an all-solar car being a big winner anytime in the near future. That being said, we don’t doubt Toyota is doing R&D on solar and that at some car show we might see a concept car of some sort that involves solar.
CNET’s Green Tech blog offers some background on what’s apparently an old rumour that won’t die:
It was interesting when we heard about this in July.
But it seems to us that someone over at Toyota has now been fake-leaking/hinting news about a solar-powered Prius in one form or another for at least the last year.
This wonder-car-in-the-making has gone from being a Toyota Prius that uses solar roof panels from Kyocera to power its air conditioning unit, to “a vehicle that will be powered solely by solar energy” to quote one recent Associated Press article.
You may find it interesting that this rumour always comes floating by on the heels of bad news from Toyota.
In July, it accompanied news of a series of Toyota plant closings/reorganizations in the U.S.
This, however, is interesting:
Solar Electrical Vehicles (SEV) has been offering an after-market Prius solar overhaul since June 2007. It includes a customised solar panel for a Prius roof that can improve the car’s efficiency by about 29 per cent. SEV also offers kits for the Toyota Highlander, Rav4 EV and Ford Escape Hybrid.
Hybrid Car Sales Down 53% In November